WALTHAM — A year older, but a year healthier. Is it a wash? A downgrade? A net gain? In reference to Kevin Garnett, the Celtics are hoping the latter scenario plays out.
Garnett missed the 2009 playoffs after injuring his right knee in February of that season. Anyone who watched Garnett last season know Garnett’s return was met with mixed reviews (images of Rashard Lewis blowing by KG to win a game in Orlando still dance in the heads of hardcore Celtics fans).
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he expects Garnett to be more mobile this season.
“I think he’ll be better than last year,” said Rivers. “I don’t expect his minutes to go up. I don’t want his minutes to go up, I can tell you that. At lot time we read into that his numbers are down, Paul [Pierce’s] numbers are down — but the minutes are down. I think that we’ll see more out of Kevin. I think he’ll have more confidence in what he can do. I thought that hurt him as much as his actual health.”
Said Garnett, “I feel very, very strong. I feel vibrant, if that’s the right word to use.”
In addition to Garnett having confidence in himself, the Celtics also seem more confident in relying on Garnett in 2010. Players have already been scrimmaging in Waltham, and Celtics GM Danny Ainge likes what he sees.
“He’s moving well,” said Ainge. “We’re not walking on eggshells this year.”